Financial distress

The Financial Distress Research Project is a partnership among multiple branches of government, academia (students and professors), multiple non-profit service providers, and the private sector. People who participate in the project will be a part of a randomized control trial to understand the effectiveness of attorney representation, financial counseling, and self-help materials on important financial health outcomes.

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 Default in debt collection cases

We know that 95% or more of debt collection defendants lose their cases because they do not show up to court, even when they have a strong chance of winning their cases. Our debt collection studies address the question: How can legal services providers and courts persuade individuals to participate in legal processes?

Our pilot study, Problems of default, part I, demonstrates that a well-constructed letter sent to debt collection defendants at the start of their case can more than triple the rate of defendants coming to court to contest their cases.

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Intimate partner violence: how we decide who gets services

When there aren’t enough resources to meet people’s legal needs, legal services providers have to decide who will receive which level of services. A legal aid organization in northeast Ohio currently triages victims or survivors of domestic violence who seek civil protection orders to one of three service levels: an offer of full representation, a telephone call plus a self-help packet, or a self-help packet alone. The Intimate Partner Violence Triage Study will randomly divide callers into a triage process guided by an attorney, or a random triage process. We will measure both the outcome in court (who obtains the court order that they were seeking), and whether the process prevents further abuse.

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Pre-trial release

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (the “LJAF”) developed the Public Safety Assessment (the “PSA”) to provide an accurate tool to distinguish criminal defendants according to the risk that they will engage in future misconduct. Jurisdictions across the United States have begun to implement the PSA at the initial  release/detention hearing at the start of a criminal case. We are conducting a randomized control trial to assess whether providing the PSA to judicial officials making initial release/detention decisions leads to reductions in the following outcomes:

  • failures to appear at future hearings;
  • new criminal activity;
  • new violent criminal activity; and
  • the number of days defendants spend incarcerated pretrial.

Read more about pre-trial release